Growing up amid diversity: The street I grew up on had families of almost as many different nationalities as it had houses. It had almost as many different spoken languages. The children all went to the same elementary/middle school at the top of the street. We played sports and had parties together. We visited each others’ houses after school and in the evenings, often when the parents were there. We did not separate into ethnic packs. Growing up in that setting, I considered those circumstances normal, as children do, and expected to see them wherever I went. Only now, when I look back, with a very different atmosphere being manifested in some places, do I realize how lucky I was. I grew up with diversity as a core belief. I believed diversity was normal in the world, and I knew there was nothing to fear from diversity.
The very obvious differences among all my childhood friends shaped two other core beliefs: The first is that the different backgrounds and experiences of every person makes each one a unique individual. The second, for the same reason, is that all of us have things we can learn from each other.
That was in the 1950s. Now, in a world increasingly and irrevocably diverse and interconnected, I am at home, and I am comfortable. On the other hand, I am amazed and disappointed at the fear, on the part of some people, of a diverse population